50 acres added to Whalebone Cove Division of Conte Refuge, Lyme

Sep 25th, 2014 | By | Category: Land
Whalebone Cove addition (photo: © David Gumbart/TNC).

Whalebone Cove addition (photo: © David Gumbart/TNC).

Supporting our nation’s wildlife heritage through the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Nearly 50 acres in Lyme, Conn., will become part of the Whalebone Cove Division(pdf) of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, thanks to collaboration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. The conserved parcel almost doubles the total acreage of the division, bringing it up to 116 acres.

The Nature Conservancy originally purchased this property in 1999 as an addition to its Whalebone Cove Preserve. The Conservancy transferred the property to the Service, who acquired the parcel through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which for 50 years, has provided money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands.

“Nations are defined by the natural and cultural heritage they choose to preserve, which is why the Land and Water Conservation Fund is such a vital conservation tool,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “It’s fitting that as we mark the 50th anniversary of this conservation milestone, we do so by protecting important habitat at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and across the nation for current and future generations of Americans to enjoy.”

Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve native plants, animals and their habitats in the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed that stretches across four states. It is the only refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed.

Transfer of this property follows the successful partnership between the Conservancy and the Service in August of last year, when 26 acres were acquired from a private landowner. The Service also acquired the 26-acre parcel through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Together with 40 acres donated last summer from the Conservancy, those properties established the new Whalebone Cove Division of the refuge.

“The Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Conservancy share the same goals for Whalebone Cove: protecting the area’s ecological integrity and the habitats and species embedded within it,” said Sarah Pellegrino, land protection and strategies specialist for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “Our colleagues at the Refuge have repeatedly demonstrated their conservation expertise up and down the Connecticut River, and we’re extremely happy to add Whalebone Cove to the record of successful conservation collaboration between the Refuge and The Nature Conservancy.”

The Whalebone Cove Division protects freshwater tidal marshes at the head of the Connecticut River, as well as other habitats including mature forest, floodplain forest and upland meadows. Whalebone Cove offers biologically significant feeding ground for migratory waterfowl, and serves as wintering area for bald eagles and black ducks.

September 3 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the LWCF. Lands purchased through the fund are used to provide recreational opportunities, protect clean water, preserve wildlife habitat, enhance scenic vistas, protect archaeological and historical sites and maintain the nature of wilderness areas.

The Service and The Nature Conservancy are meeting with residents to discuss the refuge with nearby communities. The Service anticipates the formation of a Friends group to support and promote the mission of the new addition to the refuge.

“These investments contribute toward the refuge purpose established by Congress and enrich our quality of life by expanding conservation, education and recreation opportunities for the public. The permanent protection of this property was possible because of the Service’s long standing partnership with The Nature Conservancy and support from the Congressional delegation, the Administration, and the public,” said Andrew French, project leader at the Conte Refuge.

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